Whenever lists were posted for upcoming ship transports, Tateh and I would scan the sheets for our names. Even after we got the good news that our visas had been approved, more months went by while we waited to be assigned to one of the decommissioned troop ships that the U.S. was using to ferry refugees overseas. Finally, in late 1950, there were our names booked to leave for New York the following month. Two and a half years since the time we had registered to immigrate, our purgatory of waiting was near to an end.
When the day arrived, in January 1951, we were sent with our meager possessions on military trucks to Bremerhaven at the mouth of the Weser River on the North Sea. The port city and its bigger upriver metropolis, Bremen, were in an American-controlled enclave within the British Zone, where it served as the seaport for U.S. naval and refugee transport operations.
We sailed aboard the USS General C.W. Langfitt, a decommissioned troop carrier that had seen war service in both Europe and Asia and was now assigned to refugee transport. Tens of thousands of DPs left Europe on the General Langfitt between 1948 and 1952, when it was put back into military service for the Korean war.